Naturally, every company aims to get the best value when hiring for a position. But it’s not just about finding someone who fits the bill – it’s also about creating teams with diverse backgrounds and perspectives.
Diversity in the workplace matters – according to research, businesses with diverse teams are 25% more likely to outperform their competitors. But even though companies are increasingly realizing the importance of diversity, some still struggle to make their teams more diverse. Biased hiring, whether it’s deliberate or not, can result in less successful hiring outcomes.
So, how can companies and recruiters reduce these biases and create a more inclusive workforce? One possible solution is blind hiring. In this blog post, we will explain what blind hiring is, its pros and cons, and when it’s most effective.
What is blind hiring?
Blind recruiting involves hiding some or all personal info about a job candidate to ensure the hiring decision focuses on their skills and experience – not things like their background, ethnicity, or other personal stuff.
By doing this, companies can eliminate bias from the recruitment process – whether intentional or unintentional. It means that the best people for the job have a fair shot, no matter who they are or where they come from.
Why bias can harm the hiring process
Bias in hiring is when the person doing the recruiting has some preconceived ideas about candidates that have nothing to do with their job qualifications. These might relate to their personality, looks, or background, influencing the recruiter’s hiring decisions.
Conscious biases are the ones we know we have. In these cases, we knowingly favor or disfavor candidates based on things like their gender, race, age, or background. For example, if a recruiter intentionally picks candidates of a certain gender because they think they’re better suited for a role, that’s a conscious bias.
Unconscious biases are a bit trickier since we might not even realize we are under their spell. They build up over time from exposure to stereotypes, societal norms, and personal experiences. For example, a recruiter might subconsciously lean towards candidates who remind them of themselves, graduated from the same high school, or perhaps share a similar fashion style.
The previous example is something experts call affinity bias. It’s our natural inclination to connect with others who share our backgrounds, beliefs, and interests. However, sticking to what’s familiar can limit our creativity, hinder teamwork, and close us off to new ideas and different perspectives.
Both conscious and unconscious biases can create problems in the hiring process. They can lead to unfair treatment and push away qualified candidates just because they don’t match what the recruiter had in mind. This means companies might lose out on amazing talent.
This is where blind hiring comes in to address biased hiring.
How does blind hiring work?
So, how does blind hiring actually work in practice? Let’s look at some blind recruitment examples. The idea is to stay unbiased throughout the entire hiring process, from screening and testing to interviews.
Step 1: Candidate screening
Blind candidate screening is where it all begins. All personal information, such as names and photos, is carefully removed from candidates’ profiles and resumes. Anything that could hint at a candidate’s age or income level, like graduation years, school names, or addresses, also gets the same treatment.
To make this work, some companies opt for special software that anonymizes candidate resumes. Alternatively, someone not part of the hiring process can make applications anonymous. They can go through and take out important details like work experience, skills, and certifications, while removing any information that could introduce bias.
Step 2: Candidate testing
The second step in the blind hiring process involves anonymizing the testing of a candidate’s job-related skills and knowledge.
Before hiring, assessments can include different tasks to evaluate candidates, like dealing with customer service situations for support roles or solving coding and system problems for IT positions. Candidates could also be asked to prepare and make a presentation on a relevant topic to assess their subject knowledge.
To ensure a level playing field for all recruits, some companies use online platforms that make the testing and scoring processes anonymous. This can also be accomplished manually by having someone eliminate all personal information from the data before assessment.
Step 3: Interviewing
Now, we arrive at the most challenging part of the blind recruiting journey: the interview. Blind interviews can be written Q&A or chat interviews where identities are kept secret. However, when it comes to phone, video, or face-to-face interviews, achieving anonymization becomes a problem – can you talk with someone without noticing their personality to some extent?
If a company is committed to blind hiring but still chooses to conduct face-to-face interviews, the most a recruiter can do is strive to be as fair and unbiased as possible. This means treating every candidate equally, without any preconceived judgments based on personal characteristics. The goal is to give each candidate a fair shot to demonstrate their skills and potential for the job.
Even if “blind” face-to-face interviews, strictly speaking, aren’t feasible, reducing bias is possible with the right professional commitment.
Pros and cons of blind hiring
We’ve already discussed the possible benefits of blind hiring – let’s dive deeper into those and also touch on some of the drawbacks to paint a complete picture.
Blind hiring works well to level the playing field for diverse candidates – and having a diverse workforce can boost a company’s innovative potential and overall performance.
A biased approach to hiring could cause someone to hire a candidate simply because they went to the same university as the recruiter, for example. This can backfire if the candidate turns out to be a bust later on, forcing the company to start the recruitment process all over again. These kinds of mistakes can be expensive – but blind recruiting has the potential to allow companies to offer jobs based on skills and merit, which can lead to better hires and less turnover.
While blind hiring aims to do good, it can have some downsides.
One of them is the potential for unintentional discrimination. When a candidate’s identity is hidden, it can make it hard for hiring managers to understand their work history in context. For instance, a long gap on a resume might seem like a bad sign – but it could be perfectly reasonable, like taking time off for family reasons or traveling the world to broaden the mind.
Blind hiring can also limit recruiters’ ability to gauge cultural fit through face-to-face interactions. This becomes challenging when the entire hiring process is “blind” since candidates can’t show their true personalities. Even if someone has the right skill set and experience, it might not work out if they don’t mesh well with the team on a personal level.
Blind hiring: not a one-size-fits-all solution
Blind hiring can boost diversity and inclusivity while potentially improving the quality of hires. Nevertheless, it’s not a universal solution and may not suit every company or position. Some hiring scenarios may benefit from a more personalized approach.
It’s also worth emphasizing that blind hiring should go hand-in-hand with a solid recruitment process – it doesn’t replace the need for a good HR team. Whether blind or not, successful hiring hinges on understanding the type of candidate you require and how to attract them to your organization.
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